First thing you’ll notice about this beer is that it’s brewed with wasabi root. Says it right there on the label. Pop the cap and you can smell it plain as day, like you walked into a sushi restaurant. Wasabi. Dogfish Head collaborated with musician Julianna Barwick (she’s the singer who loops her voice into ethereal layers of sound) for this limited release, using one of Barwick’s favorite ingredients, wasabi to add a bit of kick.
Goat brains, spit, the droppings of civet cats…when you think about all the weird stuff brewers have put into beer over the years, wasabi root really isn’t that bizarre. Just look at Dogfish Head’s own strange track record, which includes beers with arctic cloud berries (I don’t even know what those are) and fungus, and wasabi seems a little…understated.
And yet, there’s no denying wasabi has a kick, so I was excited to crack this big bottle open and unleash the power of that Far Eastern root. If it can take mellow, buttery raw fish to transcendent levels, what can it do for a pale ale?
I expected something wickedly spicy, but what I found was a solid pale ale with a beautiful malt/hop balance and just a hint of bitter heat. The Munich and Caramel malts add a pleasant layer of sweetness, while the wasabi root works in conjunction with the hops to add an additional layer of bitterness. There’s a sugary sweetness to the sip and the spice doesn’t come in until the end, and when it does finally hit, it’s just a subtle reminder of the ingenuity that went into this bottle.
Don’t let the title and ingredients fool you—this isn’t a gimmick beer. At its heart, Rosabi is an excellent pale ale, and the wasabi root works so harmoniously, it had me wondering why more brewers aren’t using it in their beers.
Brewery: Dogfish Head
Style: Imperial Pale Ale